Cass County Board: County will continue to limit access to buildings through Nov. 3

Cass County Courthouse

LAKE SHORE — Cass County buildings will remain closed through Nov. 3.

County Administrator Josh Stevenson made the recommendation at the Tuesday, Aug. 18, Cass County Board meeting. The decision to keep buildings closed was due to the steady increase in active COVID-19 cases in the area and also to allow the use of the county boardroom as an election poll location during the general election.

Commissioner Dick Downham made the motion to continue to limit public access to county buildings through Nov. 3 with commissioner Bob Kangas seconding the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.

Central Services Director Tim Richardson, joining the meeting via phone, presented a new parking plan for staff and visitors at the courthouse. With the increase in public traffic due to jury trials beginning, there was a need for more parking close to the building. The proposed plan is to have designated areas around the courthouse campus for visitors only and adjust the staff parking area. This proposed plan is consistent with the city of Walker’s desire to make it easier for visitors to find parking close to the courthouse, Richardson said. All board members voted in favor of the new parking plan.

Richardson also requested the board approve an additional $29,978 to purchase additional door controls. After the board approved the initial request at the July 7 meeting to replace the door controls, Richardson met with officials from the sheriff’s office and administration and discovered an additional door needed to be added to provide access control to the courts and annex. Currently there are two different cards or fobs being used to access the courthouse doors and Health Human Veterans Services building, and with this additional money they will be able to tie all the doors to the same system so only one card/fob would be needed. This expense would qualify as an expense from the COVID-19 CARES Act Relief Funds. Commissioners unanimously approved the expense.


County Engineer Darrick Anderson updated the board with the quotes received for the construction of a new salt shed and brine mixing building in Walker. Anderson said there has been a significant increase in costs since this past spring when the budget was set for the project, but the project is time sensitive and needs to be completed before the winter’s delivery of salt. Commissioner Jeff Peterson asked if there was a payback to the taxpayer on switching to a brine solution. Anderson said the payback would be in a reduction of salt usage because the brine is used to wet the surface of the road so that the salt doesn’t bounce off the roadway, which will allow for quicker salt activation. Downham motioned to award the contracts to RW Electric for electric in the amount of $9,125; Pipe Dreamz for plumbing and heating in the amount of $35,215; Leech Lake Lumber for materials in the amount of $45,265.79; and Hy-Tec Construction for the construction labor, which includes the cost of concrete, in the amount of $173,750. Kangas seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.

Environmental Services Director John Ringle joined the meeting via phone to share the first half 2020 Planning and Zoning activity reports. Ringle said planning and zoning activity was up 7.4% over the first half of 2020 versus 2019, with activity being up 10.92% for the second quarter. This is the most activity the department has seen in the second quarter since 2007, 13 years ago, Ringle said. A total of 845 land use permits, including variances and conditional uses, have been issued during the first half of 2020. It was also noted that although there was an increase in building and septic permits, variances and conditional uses were slightly down in the first half of 2020. This is expected to change for the third quarter as both July and August have had over 20 applications each month.

In other business, the county board:

Adopted a resolution to approve Advance Federal Construction funds in 2020 for the County Highway 1 and County Highway 44 project.

Awarded a contract in the amount of $1,884,436.80 to Anderson Brothers Construction, contingent on approval from the Minnesota Department of Transportation Office of Civil Rights, for the County Highway 1 reclaim, pave and roundabout project.

Approved McLaughlin Auctioneers as the online bidding service for the county highway department’s online auction of surplus equipment set Sept. 28 through Oct. 7.

The next meetings are as follows: Commissioner’s board meeting, 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, at the Land Department Meeting Room in Backus; and commissioner’s board meeting, 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, at Wilson Township, 3990 16th Ave. SW, Pine River.

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